NEWARK — The home stands at Delaware Stadium held a good number of people the night of Dec. 1. They were there to watch Salesianum take on Cape Henlopen in the DIAA 3A football championship.
At one end of the stadium sat the students, hundreds of them, many wearing black shirts, almost all of them standing the entire game. A sizeable number of alumni watched as well as the Sals won their first state championship since 2013 with a 45-17 victory over the Vikings.
Salesianum coach Gene Delle Donne, himself a Salesianum graduate, knew just how those folks in the stands felt, as did his players. Delle Donne became the second Salesianum alumnus to win a state title coaching his alma mater, joining George Glenn.
“I was fighting back tears earlier because of how much it means to us, how much it means to the community, the program, and most importantly, the boys,” he said on the field after the game. “The players, they deserve it all. We’re just calling the plays and trying to guide them in the right direction. They deserve the world.”
Standout running back B.J. Alleyne returned to Salesianum this year after spending the previous two years at Delaware Military Academy. He attended Sallies as a freshman and is glad to be back.
“You know, coming back to the school and knowing the environment I was going to be in, the support that we all have for each other, it feels great,” said Alleyne, who ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns in the final.
“It’s a great community, and I love being here.”
Once the players received the state championship trophy, they headed over to the sidelines in front of the student section, sharing the moment with their schoolmates. L.J. Smith, a junior linebacker who returned an interception for a touchdown against Cape, appreciated the support from his fellow students on a rainy Friday night when they could have been a dozen other places.
“They filled up the entire UD student section,” he said. “They knew it was going to be cold and rainy. As a player on this team winning the state chip, I gotta thank them and the brotherhood. It’s all about the brotherhood. Without them, I don’t think we’d even be at this point.”
Quarterback Brady McBride said the Salesianum fans are the team’s “12th man. “It’s amazing to see all the people, the brotherhood up there.”
Photos by Don Blake.